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Ideal's Composition Dolls

Ideal made a wide variety of composition dolls including babies, toddlers, children and characters, beginning in 1906, and continuing until the late 1940s, when they switched over to hard plastic. The following is a list of Ideal's most notable composition dolls. Photos of dolls not pictured here can be seen in the third edition of Judith Izen's book "Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls," unless otherwise noted.

Click on a photo to view a larger version.

Yellow Kid, reportedly made in 1907, was the first of many comic strip character dolls that Ideal made over the years. It was based on the character from the "Hogan's Alley" strip by Richard Felton Outcault. Yellow Kid is bald, with large ears and wears a long yellow gown. This must be an extremely rare doll - it is not pictured in any reference books.

Uneeda Kid - a tie-in with the Uneeda Biscuit Co., this was the first of many licensed characters for Ideal. He wears a yellow raincoat and hat and carries a box of biscuits. A few years later, Zu-Zu Kid, another advertising doll, appeared. She wears a yellow satin clown costume decorated with stars. Both dolls have compo head, hands and boots, with a cloth body.

Liberty Boy - this 12" all composition doll's brown WWI Army uniform is entirely molded on, with the exception of his hat.

Soozie Smiles is a two-faced doll with smiling and crying expressions. Compo head and arms with cloth body and legs.

_sears27 (8K) Flossie (or Flossy) Flirt debuted in 1924 with "flirty" eyes - they move from side to side, as well as open and close. She is a "mama" toddler doll, with composition head, arms and swinging legs on a cloth body with a cryer. Variations using the Flossy name were made, including Vanity Flossy, who has rubber arms and can hold a brush, comb or mirror in her hand; and Happy Flossy, a baby with open mouth and pacifier. Starting in 1928, all the Flossie dolls were advertised as having rubber arms "that feel so real." In 1931, she was made with rubber legs as well. If you squeezed either leg, she would cry. Flossie was still being advertised in the Sears catalog in 1934.
_sears29 (3K) Tickletoes was another doll with the flirting eye mechanism. This adorable baby with compo head, rubber limbs and cloth body was prominently advertised until 1935, when Ideal's all-rubber babies, Honeysuckle and Ducky, got the big push. Tickletoes continued to be made through 1939.

Snoozie, designed by Bernard Lipfert, has an unusual face with yawning mouth and nostril holes. Her head is composition, her limbs rubber, and her body cloth. She was made in four sizes in 1933 and '34. Snoozie returned in 1951 in a vinyl head version, with "magic skin" latex rubber limbs and cloth body.

Composition Shirley Temple doll by Ideal Composition Shirley Temple doll by Ideal Shirley Temple was the most popular doll of the 1930s. She was sold in several sizes, in many different outfits from her movies. There were many knockoffs of this doll made by various companies, but Ideal had the license to make the official Shirley doll. She was all composition, with a mohair wig showing off her trademark curls. Shirley Temple dolls were re-introduced in vinyl versions in the 1950s, and again in the '70s.

Betsy Wetsy - Ideal continued its hot streak with this drink and wet doll, patterned after Effanbee's Dy-Dee Baby. The composition Betsy was first introduced in 1937, but she was sold in many different versions over the years.

Soldier Flexy doll by Ideal Soldier Flexy doll by Ideal Soldier Flexy doll by Ideal Soldier Flexy doll by Ideal
Flexy Dolls, designed by Joseph Kallus, are unique in the doll world. they are 13" tall, with compo heads and hands, wooden bodies and feet, and posable tubular wire mesh arms and legs. Characters included Baby Snooks, Mortimer Snerd, Sunny Sue and Sunny Sam. A Soldier doll and a black doll were also made with the Sunny Sam head mold, and a Clown was made with the Mortimer Snerd head mold. The Soldier head was later used for all-compo military dolls during WWII.

Deanna Durbin was Ideal's second big movie star doll. They claimed that she was the first "teenage" doll made. She was all composition with a brown human hair wig and brown eyes, and a smiling expression. She was sold in four sizes in a variety of outfits. The Deanna doll was also used with a blonde wig for Queen of the Ice (a skating doll), Miss Liberty (to promote war bonds) and with black hair as Gulliver from Gulliver's Travels. The rarely found Judy Garland teen doll was very similar to Deanna and is hard to distinguish from her.

Gabby, King Little, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket were animation character dolls sold by Ideal in 1939-40. They were designed by Joseph Kallus of the Cameo Doll Co., and may have been made by Cameo as well. (Their wood-segmented bodies with name decals on the chest were exactly like the dolls Cameo was making at the time, and completely different from any other Ideal products.)

Sources for this page include:

  • "Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls, 3rd edition" by Judith Izen
  • "Collector's Encyclopedia of American Composition Dolls, 1900-1950" by Ursula R. Mertz
  • "Dolls, Teddy Bears and Accessories of the Twenties and Thirties from Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalogs" edited by Margaret Adams

Copyright 2007 by Zendelle Bouchard.